“I will bow down toward Your holy temple
And give thanks to Your name for Your lovingkindness and Your truth;
For You have magnified Your word according to all Your name.
On the day I called, You answered me;
You made me bold with strength in my soul.”
Over the past several years, leading up to and following Chris’s passing, thousands of homeschooling families have prayed with me for my family. If you are one of those now reading my blog who prayed, I want to say THANK YOU! God used your prayers to sustain us in ways you may never see. Please know, however, how important your intercession for us has been!
In addition to thanking the Lord for holding us up through the past 7+ years, I want to thank the Lord for little answers to BIG, ongoing prayers for my kids. Notice I said little answers and big prayers?
I have had such deep places of discouragement, feeling alone in this journey of homeschooling/raising my kids while caring for a critically ill husband, and discipling them these past four years without their dad, wondering if I could (and can) really do this by myself as God has called me to. I’ve longed to see answers to my prayers for them, and at times the waiting has been long, longer than I thought I could bear. The darkest nights of doubt, however, have often been dispelled by the light of God’s truth, even when the answers I prayed for didn’t come.
For those on a journey that feels similar to mine, what are some things we can do to fight discouragement, think Godwardly (yes, I just made up that word!), and grow in faith regarding our children?
1. Observe & Ask — When you see behavior in your child that troubles your heart, purpose to observe before speaking, and ask questions before making declarative statements. I have done this all wrong so many times, by either not taking the time to really see what did or did not happen and by declaring something as fact before I had all the answers. “He who gives an answer before he hears, it is folly and shame to him.” ~Proverbs 18:13
2. Fight the temptation to think less than the best of your child – This is not putting your head in the sand; it’s giving your heart room to NOT automatically assume the worst when you see troubling attitudes or behavior. For instance, I have a child whose attitude really goes downhill when overwhelmed by life circumstances. The words that come out in these times sound grumpy and complaining, or defensive, or downright combative (or all of them at the same time-talk about discouraging, moms!)
I literally have to fight to think the best of that child! At the very least, I need to consider that she possibly needs to be reminded of God’s truth and offered some deep encouragement before she can fight her own battle over her negative attitude and harmful words expressed. “The Lord is compassionate and gracious; slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness…He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.” ~Psalm 103:8, 10
3. Remember God’s heart toward each of us – It’s often easier for me to see where my kids are struggling than to see where I might be struggling. What helps me to keep a Godward perspective is reflecting on God’s heart toward me, a sinner just like my kids. God is patient with me, His child. He pours out His mercies anew each day. His lovingkindness endures forever.
I certainly don’t always have a faith-filled heart, or words of kindness on my lips, or perfect love for my family. His attitude toward me is meant to encourage me to have the same heart for my children; His Spirit in us gives us the power to reflect His heart to our children, even when they are struggling.
God is doing something much bigger than calling us to live godly lives. He is showing us how great His power is toward us who believe—both parents and kids! “ I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe.” ~Ephesians 1:18-19a
Don’t ever give up on your children. God’s arm is not too short to intervene, and if you are drawing near to Him with what faith you may possess though little, He is never far away, even if He seems silent for a time.
Your Father hears the cries of those who hide in the shadow of His wings and rest in His perfect love and wisdom. He will not be silent forever. He is there, and He is at work for our good, because of His love for us and for our children. May we be patient with His process–what a great work He is doing!